Centerpieces and Special Reports

Directed to theatre staff and board members, this section offers in-depth analyses, case studies, and resource tools on specific management issues, as well as reports on research conducted by TCG's Research, Policy & Collective Action department. Topics include governance, marketing, development, education, and general management issues and are curated by specialists in each area. Select from the topics below to see all Centerpieces or Special Reports in that category. Please contact Ilana B. Rose, associate director of research & collective action, at with any questions.


March 2014: In Whom We Trust V: Theatre Governing Boards in 2013

Results and analysis of the 2013 TCG Governing Boards Survey, which explores various facets of not-for-profit boards of directors, including board composition and structure, board policies, board development, board/staff relations and board committees.

December 2007: In Whom We Trust IV: Theatre Governing Boards in 2007

Results and analysis of the TCG 2007 Governing Boards Survey, which explores various facets of not-for-profit boards of directors, including board composition and structure, board policies, board development, board/staff relations and board committees.

December 2004: 2004 TCG Governing Boards Survey Data

The most current and comprehensive data on the state of not-for-profit theatre governing boards.

November 2004: In Whom We Trust III: Theatre Governing Boards in 2004

Results and analysis of the TCG 2004 Governing Boards Survey. Reports from these surveys reveal the vital contributions that board members make to our organizations and the areas where additional work is most needed.

March 2004: Surviving Crisis: Seattle's ACT Theatre

What would you do if your 38-year-old theatre, which had a reputation for fiscal stability, suddenly found itself $2.7 million in debt and facing imminent closure? Managing director Susan Trapnell traces the development of her theatre's crisis and the incredible tale of board, staff and community loyalty that led to the comeback of ACT Theatre in Seattle.

January 2004: Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sarbanes-Oxley but Were Afraid to Ask

The Sarbanes-Oxley Act has become the standard for "best practices" in corporate management and governance. BoardSource and the Independent Sector have created a readable guide to the key provisions of Sarbanes-Oxley, explaining clearly their relevance to not-for-profit organizations.

October 2003: The Role of Trustees in Major Gifts Fundraising

Thinking of starting a major gifts fundraising program with your board? Maybe you already have a program in place: If so, are you doing everything you can to prepare and support the board in their efforts? In this issue, Seattle Repertory Theatre's director of development Dawn Rains explores a recent transition in trustee involvement in the theatre's major gifts program and offers a few practical tools for engaging your board in major gifts fundraising. In a second article, Carter Hiestand, who recently joined the Cleveland Play House after many years with Case Western Reserve University, talks about his perceptions of the differences in major gifts fundraising between the worlds of higher education and theatre.

June 2003: The Board's Role in Succession Planning

A successful leadership transition can be a seamless, productive and unifying experience, but only if the board and executive leader are prepared for it. This article provides a roadmap for the detailed groundwork a board should undertake before and after a leadership transition including the importance of a succession plan that develops organically from the organization's strategic plan, questions the board should ask itself and potential candidates, how to create or revise an executive director's job description and shaping the work of a search committee. This article is a reprint originally published in Succession: Arts Leadership for the 21st Century (Illinois Art Foundation, 2002), a compendium of surveys, focus groups, interviews and white papers examining leadership succession from every direction.

January 2003: Fall Forum 2002: Arts Activism in the Changing Times

This issue features one of the highlights from TCG's Fall Forum in New York City: the complete keynote address from Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class: And How It's Transforming Work, Leisure, Community and Everyday Life.

February 2002: In Whom We Trust II: Theatre Governing Boards in 2001

The results of TCG's second governing boards survey profiles theatre boards by age, gender, ethnicity and structure, defines board activities and reflects board priorities. The report provides trustees and managing directors with a thorough cross-section of useful benchmarks.

September 2001: Learning Perspectives from Beyond the Board Room

Theatre trustees relate their perspectives on and experiences at two events focused on professional development opportunities for trustees—the 2001 TCG National Conference in Philadelphia, "The Role of Live Theatre in a Digital Culture," and the Trustee Residency Program at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference.

May 2001: Professional Development for Trustees

In the January 1999 report In Whom We Trust: An Exploration of Theatre Governing Boards, a dismaying 92 percent of managers believed that their board is minimally knowledgeable about theatre. In response, this Centerpiece highlights several offerings of professional development for trustees, including a pilot program at the Eugene O'Neill Theater Center National Playwrights Conference; seminars offered by National Arts Stabilization in conjunction with Stanford University Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School and the Kennedy Center's Vilar Institute for Arts Management; and TCG's own programs and services for trustees.

March 2001: The Chair, More Than Just a Title

With an emphasis on the principles of mission and collective leadership, Management Consultants for the Arts examines the important role played by the Chair of the Board of Trustees. The Chair should be the facilitator of a strong partnership between the trustees and the institution's CEO, along with balancing a passion for the organization's mission with a working knowledge of how to translate that mission into reality. The piece outlines ten characteristics of the most effective Board Chairs.

December 2000: Advocacy: Making the Case for Theatre

Advocacy is the public face of theatre and trustees play an important role in advocating for their theatres. Trustees not only bring their talents and resources to the theatre but also promote the talent and resources of the theatre to the community. Four trustee "reporters" chronicle the November 2000 Fall Forum Making the Case for Theatre: Positioning, Value and Practices, describing the role of advocacy in marketing, fundraising and outreach.

July 2000: Diversifying Our Boards

Diversifying the board is one of the most difficult challenges facing trustees—the diversity conversation often hits a dead end, lacking clarity of purpose or reflecting uncertainty about how to proceed. Directing Diversity addresses the issues related to diversifying a board, including preparation, steps that need to be taken, the reluctance to change and the obstacles that need to be recognized and overcome.

February 2000: Resources for Trustees

A major resource for trustees and their theatres is the rapidly growing literature on not-for-profits and their boards with many organizations producing books, magazines, videos and websites on not-for-profit governance. Finding Governance Resources: A Roadmap to the Web provides a guide to internet resources, introducing important institutional sources of board information and a roadmap to assist trustees in finding what is most relevant.

December 1999: Helping Founders Succeed

While the term "entrepreneur" has a positive connotation in not-for-profit parlance, "founder" suffers from negative associations—yet founders are all entrepreneurs. This article examines how to successfully nurture, manage and govern an arts founder, including discussions of the mindset of a founder, the three stages of separation to establish organizational permanence and helping founders succeed.

October 1999: Enduring Partnerships

An interview with Emily Mann, Jeffrey Woodward and Liz Fillo of the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton, NJ, explores the elements of a creative and enduring partnership among an artistic director, managing director and board leader. The conversation addresses issues of interaction, confronting problems, working through differences and leading an institution together.

June 1999: New Thinking about Boards

"The New Work of the Nonprofit Board," an article from the September/October 1996 issue of the Harvard Business Review, provides some broad ideas for how boards can become more innovative, flexible and responsive to their rapidly changing environments. The authors argue that many not-for-profit boards do not effectively utilize their members and demonstrate how boards can change the way they operate to achieve more institutional success and personal satisfaction.

March 1999: Who Needs to Know?

Faced with the statistic that 92 percent of theatre managers believe that their board is barely or not at all knowledgeable about theatre, two trustees offer personal reflections on their efforts to continue their theatre education. Artistic leaders, managers and trustees work together to plan creative opportunities for trustees to see plays, new and old, in progress and fully staged.

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